Well, it is likely that you (like me) have been happily drooling over all the pretty seed catalogs that have come out over the last few months. Me, I want everything I see meaning I really need a monstrous, huge, gigantic, I can see to the moon yard. Oh yes indeed. My eyes are usually bigger than my stomach, and my eyes are ALWAYS bigger than my garden.
There are few companies that I really enjoy and even though I know I can view their catalogs online (much more sustainable and such)…but there is something to be said about holding that beautiful, glossy, picture filled goodness in your hand and then methodically paging through it will progressively making a longer, more impossible wish list. Nah…I haven’t done that…no not me. Right….
If you have never grown plants from seed before, there is something awesome about it…a feeling of accomplishment and then 20 tomato plants later of the same variety because you felt to guilty about selecting only a few seedlings to transplant and you transplanted them all. Yup, did that to. I was throwing tomato plants at people. Only really need 2 of them.
I have ordered from Burpee Seed before and bought plenty of seed in big box stores and such. The other places that I want to order from and have heard good things about are:
Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Renee’s Garden – I so want to order a bunch of seeds from here because their seed packets are awesome and all arty and such and I want to frame them and hang on my wall
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds – This one is at the recommendation of a friend and their catalog is awesome. And this year’s catalog on the front is watermelons that look like they’re smiling. Check here for smiling watermelons.
Seed Saver’s Exchange
This year I only have the Baker Creek catalog, everything else I’m going viewing online. Also…because, I um…also forgot to request said catalogs. I really enjoy Johnny’s Selected Seeds, because their catalog is an invaluable resources for actually growing your chosen plants.
So, if you are wanting to start plants from seed, you need to know your space and how much you really want to grow and what you are willing to eat. It is really easy to over estimate the production potential of just a few plants. Ask me how I know that. I could go onto a huge long diatribe about what produces how much, but that would be, well long. If I remember correctly, Johnny’s Seeds has some info about how much a row of X number of vegetables will produce. Making it a bit easier to figure out. To be honest, before you go on a seed purchasing frenzy, you need to know how much garden space you have. Even a small garden that’s 10 X 10 or 20 X 20 can usually produce more than enough for a family. Ever hear of CSA’s? Community Supported Agriculture where you get a share of vegetables each week for usually 21-22 weeks. Research out of Wisconsin showed that ONE acre of land could produce 30 CSA shares and that is a huge diversity of veggies. Each share is usually enough to feed at least a family of four in lots of yummy veggies. So, it really doesn’t take that much. And of course if you don’t have a yard to dig up, there is always container gardening.
Just to put this in perspective, from a book that I love…The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch a 20×24 ft garden could produce the following:
Rhubarb (okay…this is a perennial, but it was in the design so I included it)
Early Beets than Escarole (this is called succession planting, where you grow an early crop and by the time it’s ready for harvest, there is still enough time to grow a different crop)
Early lettuce interplanted with broccoli (this is a bit different than succession planting…this is the idea that you will harvest a crop like lettuce prior to the broccoli becoming big enough to shade out the other crop, then the broccoli continues to grow after the lettuce is harvested. Optimal use of space)
Early turnips, then lettuce
Lettuce than late beets
Scallions, then late carrots
Early carrots with radishes, then fall spinahc
This is 20X24 foot garden!!! This is a lot of produce. I should also mention that one packet of seed often has good potential to produce more plants than you might need.
For me, with one other person, my garden last year was producing way more than we could possibly use unless we ended up canning. I didn’t even get a chance to get a full perspective of the production potential since I had to move before the season was over.
So, figure out what you really want to eat and then throw in a few things to try. Make sure to draw out a placement plan of where you want to put your crops. Make sure to account for sun direction so that taller plants won’t shade out larger plants. Once you’ve gotten this far….then we can talk about starting seeds. If you are wanting to grow cool season crops like peas, lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, kholrabi, cabbage, and swish chard…you’ll want to order soon. Of course, I’m speaking for Illinois. These crops need lengthier cooler weeks to produce properly before the heat sets in. I’ll go more into detail about this in another soon to be published future type blog post.
Feel free to post comments and questions about what to try and such. I’d love to have a blog post focused on answering your questions. So, go, hit those catalogs. Make your dream list, then choose what you really want and try something new. And for parting eye candy and to help you think of spring…